Monstrous Alaska Landslide Shatters Family: Parents and 2 Children Confirmed Dead, One Child Still Missing

Monstrous Alaska Landslide Shatters Family: Parents and 2 Children Confirmed Dead, One Child Still Missing

It’s a tragedy that highlights yet again that, along with the beauty of God’s creation, there is often terrible danger in it, as well.

According to Fox Weather, four are confirmed dead, and two are missing after a landslide near Wrangell, Alaska on Nov. 20.

The Associated Press reported that the missing and deceased were five members of a family and their neighbor.

That neighbor, Otto Florschutz, is a 65-year-old commercial fisherman who made a long-shot bid at the state’s lone congressional seat in 2022.

Meanwhile, Timothy Heller, 40, and Beth Heller, 36, plus their children, were all confirmed dead or missing. The Hellers ran their own construction company, Heller High Water. Beth Heller also served on the Wrangell School Board in 2019 and 2020.

The latest confirmed victim was 11-year-old Kara Heller, whose body was pulled from the debris on Saturday.

The couple’s other daughter, 16-year-old Mara Heller, had already been confirmed dead along with the parents, buried in the debris that buried houses and portions of a highway.

“A Scent Detection K-9 indicated on an area of the debris and with the assistance of an excavator, the remains were recovered,” the Alaska Department of Public Safety said in a statement.

“Next of kin and the State Medical Examiners Office has been notified. A scent detection K9 team remains on standby and will resume searching if new information or evidence leads to a specific search area.”

Florschutz and 12-year-old Derek Heller remain missing.

On Friday, the DPS reported it “continues to work closely with our partners at the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities on clearing the roadway of debris.”

“A scent detection K9 team remains on standby to resume searching if new information or evidence provides a specific search area that needs to be investigated,” it noted.

Florschutz’s wife survived the landslide, the AP reported.

“Florschutz, a Republican who previously served on Wrangell’s Port Commission, was one of 48 candidates who entered the race to fill the congressional seat vacated when longtime US Rep. Don Young died last year,” the AP noted.

“He received 193 votes out of nearly 162,000 cast.”

“As a 42-year commercial fisherman I have worn many hats,” he said in a candidate statement that emphasized his ability to consensus-build.

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“Besides catching fish, I have served in community elected positions, done boat repair, mechanics, welding, carpentry, business and much more.”

There is a dangerous beauty to all of nature, particularly that which exists on the edge of the wilderness. And yet, our existence, our commercial and cultural ecosystem, requires people hearty enough to do it.

Our thoughts and prayers are with both the Florschutz and Heller families.


This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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